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The Difference Between German and Japanese Knives

You likely know that different knives serve different purposes – paring knives are used for peeling or cutting small fruits and vegetables, steak knives are for cutting steak, bread knives are for cutting bread… you get the picture.

But did you know that most knives are either made of Japanese or German steel, and they each serve a very different purpose in your kitchen? When shopping for knives, you should understand the differences between these two types of knives so you can buy the one that suits you best. Furthermore, it’s important to understand the distinction so you understand how to use each type of knife properly.

Steel: Steel is a metal alloy made of carbon and iron. The more carbon a piece of steel contains, the harder it is. However, high amounts of carbon also make steel brittle. Japanese knives tend to have more carbon, so they are very hard yet quite brittle. On the other hand, Garman knives are a bit softer yet more durable. Japanese knives tend to be prone to chipping and need to be sharpened more, while German knives tend to hold their composure.

Edge: Japanese knife blades are thinner than German knives, which typically means they are much sharper. While German blades are typically curved to allow for rocking motions while cutting, Japanese-style knives tend to be very straight for clean, precise slices.

Function: Japanese kitchen knives are precision cutting tools. They are best used for fine slicing and delicate cuts. German blades, on the other hand, are more versatile – they have multiple uses and are the more durable option. 

When shopping for Japanese vs. German knives, it will all come down to what you’ll use the knife for. If you, like most people, need a versatile knife that can get any job done, German knives are the knives for you!

Shop German-style knives at Ritual Unions.

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